• Brief

    • Tuberculosis is a disease that primarily affects the lungs. But it may spread to other parts of the body like the spine, brain, kidney, and digestive tract.

      The bacteria that causes tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing them into the air. People who then breathe in such infected air can come down with the disease.

      Patients suspected of having tuberculosis can access free tests and treatment in government healthcare centres in Nigeria.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • There are two types of tuberculosis, namely active and latent tuberculosis. Latent tuberculosis is not contagious and does not present any symptoms but can be activated if the immune system becomes depressed, like in diabetes or HIV.

      Active tuberculosis is when a person infected with tuberculosis has symptoms and can spread the bacteria to healthy people. The symptoms include:

      • Chest pain or pain with breathing.
      • Cough that lasts more than three weeks.
      • Fatigue.
      • Loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss.
      • Coughing up blood.
      • Drenching night sweats.
      • Fever.
    • What are the causes?

    • Tuberculosis is transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and another person inhales those droplets containing the tuberculosis bacteria. The bacteria are slow-growing and may take a while before symptoms show up.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • You are at an increased risk of contracting tuberculosis if you live in Nigeria and have not been vaccinated.

      Also at risk are people who:

      • Are in close contact with a person with active tuberculosis.
      • Have a weakened immune system, e.g. people living with HIV, people with kidney diseases, etc.
      • Are malnourished.
      • Live in a place with poor ventilation or crowded space, such as having more than four adults in one room.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • You should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you:

      • Have had a cough for longer than three weeks.
      • Cough up blood.
      • Lose a significant amount of weight.
    • How to prevent?

    • Tuberculosis is primarily prevented by vaccination in Nigeria. Children receive the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine. However, you should continue to observe other preventive measures like coughing into your elbow and handwashing since the vaccine does not protect against tuberculosis all the time. Early detection is also important since treatment can prevent complications and control transmission to other people.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-Care Tips

      • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Use a bent elbow to sneeze in to prevent transferring the bacteria to other surfaces.
      • Wear facemasks when you have a cough and when caring for someone with a cough.
      • Avoid public areas once you are told you have active tuberculosis.

      Treatment Options

      • Active tuberculosis is treated with a combination of antibiotics for a period of 6 to 12 months. Although you may begin to feel better after taking your drugs for some time, you should continue it as prescribed. This will prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant to the medicines.
      • The first-line treatment for tuberculosis is isoniazid (INH) combined with ethambutol, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide. Treatment of tuberculosis is usually administered as directly observed treatment (DOT) in Nigeria, and the drugs are given for free at public healthcare centres.
      • You may experience stomach upset, itchy skin, and dark coloured urine while using anti-tuberculosis medications.
      • Tuberculosis may recur after treatment or not respond to the usual medications in some people, this is nothing to be worried about. It only means that you may require a different type of treatment.
    • Kulawa cares

    • Tuberculosis is an important disease in Nigeria as it continues to infect and kill many people. Early identification and treatment will prevent you from spreading it to your loved ones, slow down damage to organs, and stop complications. BCG vaccine protects against tuberculosis; it is part of the national immunization schedule and should be given to all children.

      If you suspect that you may be infected with Tuberculosis, visit a government screening centre without delay. When caught early, the damage caused by tuberculosis is less serious.